Male Birth Control Vasalgel (RISUG) Ready For Human Trials This Year?

RISUG-Closeup2 (380x358)

Could this be the best birth control out there?

In early 2010, the Parsemus Foundation purchased the rights to begin studying the male birth control Vasalgel (called RISUG in India) and according to their website, “Since then a contract manufacturer has been selected to make the polymer to FDA requirements; technology transfer work has been completed; a rabbit study has been started … the goal is to have it on the market as an alternative to vasectomy as early as 2015, with the first clinical trial beginning by the end of this year.” They also announced earlier this month that almost a full six months of sperm counts are in from the rabbit study, “and all of the rabbits are still free of live sperm,” which means they still plan to start clinical trials “by the end of this year.” But what is Vasalgel and how does it work? Techcitement explains,

A doctor applies some local anesthetic, makes a small pinhole in the base of the scrotum, reaches in with a pair of very thin forceps, and pulls out the small white vas deferens tube. Then, the doctor injects the polymer gel (called Vasalgel here in the US), pushes the vas deferens back inside, repeats the process for the other vas deferens, puts a Band-Aid over the small hole, and the man is on his way … The chemicals themselves cost less than the syringe used to administer them. But the science of what happens next is the really fascinating part.

The two common chemicals — styrene maleic anhydride and dimethyl sulfoxide — form a polymer that thickens over the next 72 hours, much like a pliable epoxy, but the purpose of these chemicals isn’t to harden and block the vas deferens. Instead, the polymer lines the wall of the vas deferens and allows sperm to flow freely down the middle (this prevents any pressure buildup),  and because of the polymer’s pattern of negative/positive polarization, the sperm are torn apart through the polyelectrolytic effect. On a molecular level, it’s what supervillains envision will happen when they stick the good guy between two huge magnets and flip the switch.

With one little injection, this non-toxic jelly will sit there for 10+ years without you having to do anything else to not have babies. Set it and forget it. Oh, and when you do decide you want those babies, it only takes one other injection of water and baking soda to flush out the gel, and within two to three months, you’ve got all your healthy sperm again.

risug

What do you think?

Would you use this as a form of birth control?

Photos: Male Contraception Information Project

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Comments

  1. Awesome stuff, hope it works well. I also hope to get it after being sedated enough to let someone snip around there ;).

    • John Anderson says:

      I was thinking the same thing. I also thought it was weird that they clean it with baking soda to reverse it. I’d like to know if they tested the reversibility. Right now I’d assume it’s a one way street.

      ” They also announced earlier this month that almost a full six months of sperm counts are in from the rabbit study, “and all of the rabbits are still free of live sperm,”

      Would you volunteer for the clinical trial is the question? You’d be spending the next year wacking off.

      • Fuck no, I get very little sex as it is and don’t want to jeapoardize it. If I lost my ability to have sex I probably would kill myself, so I’d rather others do the clinical trial first. ;) I am a coward that way I guess. It sounds pretty safe however, it doesn’t block but zaps the spermies dead and can easily be washed away. I wonder if a similar method could be used to zap eggs in women? Granted that surgery would be more invasive.

        • John Anderson says:

          @ Archy

          What if you got paid some nominal fee? Look at the bright side. They’d probably need samples to check the sperm count. How many guys can say they get paid to wank or they’re doing it for science or the betterment of mankind? At least how many guys could say that honestly? Which makes me wonder, do they actually check sperm count if you donate sperm or could some guy game the system by selling inert sperm?

          • I want it proven effective, I wouldn’t want to be someone who one day wakes up with testicular cancer or some shit. I’ve already had the first decade of my adult life FULL of chronic illness, multiple illnesses and already had a thyroid cancer, so now I won’t be playing guinea pig and fucking with my health for a few bucks unless we’re talking a million dollars with a clause that if it fucks up, I get 10 million+.

      • I remember hearing about this awhile ago, as the technology was developed in India and there have been clinical trials with good results there. I don’t think there have been many reversals so far, but apparently there are currently plans for a clinical trial to reverse the procedure for some of the initial participants.

        There were clinical trials performed using monkeys from memory though, with multiple injections and reversals, and with successful reversals every time[1] (although there were only 6 monkeys used). Generally the test results and the theory look pretty promising on the reversibility aspect.

        I’m really looking forward to how this technology progresses over the next few years, as it looks like it will give us men unprecedented control over our own fertility.

        [1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10632760

        • John Anderson says:

          On Jezebel they were saying that humans had the largest penises among primates. I guess if they can reverse it on a monkey, it would be easier to reverse it on a human, but just because the penis is longer doesn’t mean that the tubes are thicker. I’m guessing that since they’re dealing with the testes area anyway, if they make a mistake, you can still have sex; you’re just going to be shooting blanks.

          I also am guessing that since they coat the tubes and don’t do anything with the testes that it doesn’t affect hormone production or anything like that.

      • Elana Kahn says:

        I believe they have tested the reversibility. The reason I believe it should be fully reversible is the fact that they’re not preventing the sperm from being created properly, they are killing them after the fact. Remove the offensive substance killing sperm, and you get all your sperm back.

        • John Anderson says:

          I was thinking that too, but I kind of wanted to make sure it was tested. It seems like it would be reversible in 10 or so years anyway if it could be believed, but I think it’s probably an estimate. They’d probably need to flush it and recharge it to keep it effective. I’m a little concerned about the margin for error. Those tubes have to be pretty small. I’d have to be put out or immobilized. If you move, bye bye babies.

  2. Very glad to hear about this. What I want to know is whether right-wing Christians will fight it or fight insurance paying for it. This is going to be very interesting. I’ll place my bet right now. No, no they won’t.

    • John Amderson says:

      At the risk of earning the wrath of the forum, I’ll agree with you for what I believe will be different reasons The government doesn’t have a strong track record in ensuring that men have access to even basic health care let alone reproductive services. I’m not convinced that insurance will be mandated to cover it.. If there is no mandate, the conservatives will have no problem with it.

      There was an outcry when condoms were being provided for free in the schools. I’m pretty sure they’re not covered under the ACA. Since men gave to pay for them, the conservatives don’t complain. So yeah, I’m not convinced the ACA will cover it.

  3. John Schtoll says:

    Lori: Know what I am waiting for..the first case where a woman claims she was raped because “I would never have had sex with him if I had known he wasn’t able to have kids”. You think I am kidding and far fetched,Nothing is far fetched anymore

    • I can understand the sentiment (because I honestly I’m waiting for the first case where a woman has a child by adultery but tries to say that her husband, who is on RISUG, is the biological father) but let’s not get too carried away.

      • John and Danny, I was actually interested in an angle to this new development other than the off-topic woman-bashing angle. If anyone else has an opinion on what I was actually asking about, I’d be interested to hear it.

        • Well if you’re gonna be like that then let’s keep it to the “but men have it so easy!” angle you are pushing.

          Honestly I think that would be interesting question. From what I’ve seen from hard right wingers it could go either way. Sure there are those that do favor men to the point of giving them a free pass but at the same time a lot of the very things that harm men are initiated and supported by hard right wingers.

          But you sound like you’ve already got the answers….

        • @ Lori :12:44

          I keep scanning the posting to find where it introduced your off-topic questions about the right-wing Christians. Could not find it? Are there special rules for which pieces of off-topic drift are acceptable? Perhaps we could call that the Lori Day rule.

          Is there a reason that right-wing Christians are NOT permitted to take a position against this procedure.? Or are you preemptively insinuating that they must be hypocrites on this issue, since they are against female birth control? Is there a difference between not wishing to be forced to subsidize birth control, either male or female, and trying to forbid that anyone have legal access to it – as in approved and legal by the FDA, as opposed to having it provided gratis?

          Not being USian, sometimes the rules are a bit, ahhh, opaque.

          • Anyone may of course take a position on whether BC should or should not be available, should or should not be subsidized. I am insinuating that there should not be hypocrisy but probably will be, but would LOVE to be proven wrong! I can’t tell you how happy I’d be to see that the people fighting so hard to obstruct women’s access to birth control (which I do not feel is off-topic to a discussion of male birth control) would apply the same obstruction to male birth control. Either God wants men and women to be fruitful and multiply no matter what, or he doesn’t. And if they don’t apply the same moral principles and fight against this new male birth control? If there’s a double standard? Well, I think we’d then see the gender gap in politics expand.

            As to the Lori Day rule? If I could have one, it would be that random, out-of-thin-air bashing of either males or females did not happen in comment threads. I know. It’s too much to ask.

            • “I can’t tell you how happy I’d be to see that the people fighting so hard to obstruct women’s access to birth control (which I do not feel is off-topic to a discussion of male birth control) would apply the same obstruction to male birth control. ”

              Why would that make you happy? It’d harm both men n women. By the way it already happens, condoms have and were in various parts of the world be seen as sinful and bad. This is the first medical procedure for temporary birth control that will most likely reach the full-time so only time will tell.

              “As to the Lori Day rule? If I could have one, it would be that random, out-of-thin-air bashing of either males or females did not happen in comment threads. I know. It’s too much to ask.”
              Who is bashing women or men here? 2 commenters and myself have concerns of what BAD women (not all women, not most women) would do with it. I don’t fear MOST women, I fear the few who set out to harm others, the kind that have harmed me in the past. I fear the same with men too.

        • “John and Danny, I was actually interested in an angle to this new development other than the off-topic woman-bashing angle. If anyone else has an opinion on what I was actually asking about, I’d be interested to hear it.”

          Let me get this straight, you, a woman, come onto a male forum and dismiss these men’s concerns about cuckoldry (which studies last I check showed 1 in 10 people of both genders experienced manipulation with birth control by their partner so the fear is well realized)? Then to go on to call it woman-bashing by strawmaning their position? Seriously? There fears are on-topic, I have them myself because not every person male or female I meet is trustworthy. There are plenty of cases of people cheating, lying, stealing, rape n abuse is pretty high in BOTH directions between the genders. Hell the other day I was in a storm and nervous about being hit by lightning, my chances of being raped and hell my chances of being falsely accused of rape are probably much higher. My chances of my partner cheating and me raising the child unaware of it are probably much much higher than struck by lightning.

          Now you could say you hope the chances are low, and that a simple DNA test should clear them of being the father and that’d be ok. Although unless he knew she cheated or the baby was born a different race to them, then he probably wouldn’t ask for a DNA test and probably go on to raise a child that biologically is someone elses. A very very bad deception that my COUSIN went through, found out when the child was about 7 years old, he still loves the child as his own but it hurt him bigtime.

          You could also say women would (rightly) be concerned a partner lied n says he did have risug when he didn’t as a way to try get her pregnant. Though differnce is she can abort, he cannot.

          What’s interesting is the article didn’t mention right-wing christians (a term you used as an insult, you also used a straw-rightwingchristian attack) yet you call Danny and John’s comment off-topic?

          The other thing is that these guys were not bashing women as a whole, they clearly were worried about individual women with bad intentions. What they said was out of fear but doesn’t mean they hate women anymore than walking around nervous of men means a person hates men. All people have their own instincts, fears, etc, where they must assess a person’s character and for some men that includes fears of false accusations used as a weapon, being cuckolded, etc.

  4. wellokaythen says:

    It’s generally better to have more options instead of fewer, so I’m all for it. The fact that it ppears to be reversible is something that would make it more appealing to men than the current form vasectomy process.

    In the meantime, fellatio continues to be a fun and effective form of male birth control. I hope it’s never replaced. : – )

    • wellokaythen says:

      Should say: “The fact that it appears to be reversible is something that would make it more appealing to men than the current vasectomy process.”

    • I have been watching this area of R&D for going on 20 years now. I have seen a lot of techniques and drugs promoted, that then come to nothing. So, I won;t hold my breath – even though I am in complete approval of some solution.

      Does anyone know if the trials to date have demonstrated very high reversal success over protracted periods? Say, something like 90% reversal success at 5 years, 80% reversal success at 10 years? Have there been studies on hormonal and endocrinal changes at 5 years? Seems to me THOSE are the key factors. After all, I can think of two procedures that is 100% successful at stopping sperm production and viability. Those two are unlikely to be widely acceptable, since they do involve hormonal and endocrine changes, are are only reversible using very high technology approaches. (Those two of course, are death and castration.)

      In any event, if a man I knew was contemplating having this done, I would urge them to have sperm stored at a cryo facility. Though, come to think of it, I would want to ensure that the storage contract did not provide anyone access to it, other then the donor with a matching DNA sample to the contributor.

      • rezam- although effective forms of BC, I’m not in support of your two extreme options at stopping the little fellas from producing.

        On a serious note, some other concerns could be risk factors simliar to women on BC who are over 35, smoke, or family history of cardiovascular disease which may increase the likelihood of strokes or heart attacks.

        • Well, I threw those two in just to complete the list, yunno – condoms, vasectomy, celibacy, castration, death …. just, ahhh.. covering the spectrum!!

          I wrote a somewhat lengthy discussion of the potential for hormonal and endocrinologic side effects from the technique. Not sure if everyone gets just what this stuff is, and frankly the promotional hyping does not disclose it. Unfortunately, I lost it to a page refresh. So, since I am too tired to write it all again, the short of it is this the plastic is is a benzene derived copolymer plastic styrene plus maleic anhydride. My organic chemistry is not current enough to evaluate the stability of the copolymer, but benzene is a bit of an issue. The EPA requires that a spill of 10 pounds be reported to it. It is known to have impacts on DNA, and it CAN be metabolized by both bacteria and eukaryotes. It gets further broken down in the liver and bone marrow, and is linked for instance to leukemia. Granted the amount is small, apparently 60 mg. The solvent used, DMSO is an aprotic solvent. If you have ever worked with fibreglass, and read the handling cautions on the solvent acetone, be aware that DMSO is its big brother.
          The mode of action suggested by Dr Guha is polyelectrical tearing of sperm cell walls, and that is a theory – there are competing views. It appears that the plastic hydrolizes in situ, and this leads to the potential for benzene to enter the body.

          This needs testing, and, frankly, I do not trust India’s protocols for testing. I doubt they looked for benzene markers, or DNA strand breaking or methylation and gene expression differences. IT seems at this point, they have tested efficacy in desired outcome (reduced sperm viability) hence my comment on alternative methods to achieve same.

          Lastly, as to reversibility, their tests have been on primates, and not on humans. As many realize, the effects of drugs and chemicals on humans is NOT the same as it is on other mammals. See, for instance, the differential effects of vasopressin on prairie voles vs other vole species. Further, please note the time differentials for those reversibility tests in primates. After 1.5 years – 2 to 3 months for normal sperm production. It is also noted that cellular level changes are reversed after 3 to 5 months, and that those cellular level changes are both in the vas deferens, AND in the TESTES. How on earth is there cellular level changes in the testes from a mechanical/electrical technique taking place in the vas? Nor is it at all evident that those reversibility tests were performed after an implantation period of much longer than 1.5 years. 5 years? 8 years?

          I have seen this kind of breathless excitement before – over and over, sugar treatments, hormonal treatments…. I’ll wait for the science to actually be done. And as I say, better store some sperm if there is the slightest chance of wanting to reproduce in the future.

          • You-who, your chemist is showing. Obviously you have a better handle on the chemical/biological portions of this. You mention the testing variance in difference species that is large concern. Simply because the rabbit didn’t die, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t freeze a jar for future use. Healthy scepticism.

            I too am concerned with the clinical trial procedures in India. One large case was Vioxx, if I remember correctly?? It was pulled from the market, re-submitted under a different name, it passed through a very thin layer of scrutiny, and the clinical trials began. Many of the test subjects are poor people who are taking multiple test drugs similtaneously to feed their families. Cross-contamination of drug interactions is almost impossible to measure.

            Any drug beyond an anti-inflammatory, raises my eyebrow.

            • On the chemistry, my organic work was nearly 30 years ago in engineering school, and I was not that great at it. I have, on the other hand had to research a fair bit of bio/chemical stuff in researching drugs and their side-effects for my daughter’s care. While I love Rpharma (I really do), no one can really deny that some of these drugs are subtle in their action, complex in their impact on metabolism, and uncertain in their side effects. Most of the ones I investigated were neurology drugs, but this led me into hormones and endocrinology and general neurology. I dealt with drugs whose effects were essentially erasure of several years worth of learning, ones that actually induced absence seizures, ones that had the side effects of dampening down all emotions and were prescribed off-label for bi-polar conditions. I taught my daughter to read four times, after her starting to read in pre-kindergarten. She learned to play chess 6 times, each time forgetting completely how the knight moves. So, I learned to research, primarily curiously enough, through the patent databases. So, I muddle through. My son does far better stuff on these issues, since it is more his field, bio-tech and genetics.
              I would not rely on my discussion of the chemistry, since I did just enough to satisfy myself that there were pathways that could present problems. Without knowing the actual mode of action, one cannot say with confidence what the potential impact might actually be.
              Prairie voles are fascinating, though.
              Your point of cross-contamination via multiple drug trials is really well made. We could add to that many conditions are co-morbid, so isolating the effects to one condition vs another is a really tough job. This is particularly true of men and depression, which presents very often as co-morbid with anxiety. It clouds the analysis, which is why many SSRI tests were conducted on female patients, and then just assumed for men. Hence, in my opinion, the reports of suicidal ideation for men taking those products.

            • Ahh, god bless you for your patience and due diligence with medications and your daughter. It’s amazing what we learn when our children are at stake.
              I have a friend whose son has a seizure disorder and he’s become an encylopedia of pharma too.

              Depression is another condition that we are treating in record numbers, I’m convinced there’s more of an emotional element that could be ameliorated with more emotional support vs medication. I’ve worked a bit with male depression and medication helps people through the rough patches, but it’s not a long-run solution.

              Although prairie voles may make for good reading or a tasty treat on the barbie-q.

  5. John Anderson says:

    I’m 45. I don’t have kids, but the genetic material is probably getting old anyway and at this stage do I really have the energy for it. I’d certainly do it if they put me out. I’d probably do it regardless. I don’t know if it’s social conditioning or just getting hit in the nuts a bunch of times, but I’m especially concerned with that particular body part. Guys might be a little more concerned naturally anyway than women because we can actually see if our stuff works. A woman’s stuff kind of always works at least for her partner.

    Archy said he’s out. Who else would be willing to give it a try or if not, why not?

    • I don’t know if it’s social conditioning or just getting hit in the nuts a bunch of times, but I’m especially concerned with that particular body part.
      I’d wager at least a part of it is social conditioning. Look at how guys are basically raised on the belief that having a functioning penis and the capacity to produce sperm is a defining part of being a man.

      Archy said he’s out. Who else would be willing to give it a try or if not, why not?
      I would (and in fact I’ve been keeping up with this partially for the sake of one day voluteering for human trials once they get to the point).

  6. Hugh Schwartz McGina says:

    Imagine a world where women cant point a finger at men exclaiming “If you didn’t want a kid you should’ve kept it in you pants”

    I think there will be a lot of discomfort and skepticism among women at the transfer of decision making power from women to men.

  7. RISUG has undergone decades of study, development and testing on animals and humans in India since it was invented over 30 years ago by Sujoy K. Guha, professor of biomedical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology.

    Prof. Guha is a highly educated and capable man, but received very little financial support in further developing his “invention” during the early days. The chemicals used are inexpensive, and the reversal ingredients of water and baking soda are equally inexpensive. As a result, the pharmaceutical companies were not interested in it, because there was no real money to be made. Bill Gates donated $100,000 to the project, which is a surprisingly small amount given his constant bitch about this worlds overpopulation. He gives 10’s of millions to other projects, especially vaccines (which is a worry if you know his attitude to depopulation), but felt that was enough for something as important as this is to men everywhere. Given how cheap this is to make, it would be a super viable option for the millions of men in third world countries, who want to stop having kids they cannot afford to raise. I believe after more than 30 years in the making and testing, this should pass any western countries standards easily. It will be nice to see men empowered to control their family planning, and remove once and for all the deceitful power of some women to have babies against their partners wishes, but to “blackmail” them into having kids and supporting them. Such women might then have to go out and get a job to support themselves, instead of living off welfare and giving their kids no real chance at a decent and fulfilling life.

    Regarding side effects, there was some suggestion that this could cause kidney problems, as albumin was found in the urine of some volunteers, however, they either must have overcome that, or it was never a significant or maybe true finding, because current trials show little to no side effects, other than some swelling at the site of the procedure that produce no pain. WHY this has still not been approved I have NO idea, given how long this has been created and tested, my best guess is there was just not enough money in it for the big pharma’s to bother with it. It will be interesting just how much it does cost when it is finally released.

  8. They need money to finish the study for Vasagel in the US. They can’t finish the research without more donations. Check out the facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/Vasalgel

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